IT-Business Alignment: The Obstacles & How to Overcome them
Strategic Silence: The Dangers of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ for Strategic Initiatives
The process of alignment (and re-alignment) need not be tedious and slow. Within a dynamic high-pressure environment, it is essential that leaders and their teams can check on alignment and update it fast. This client story regarding a digital initiative reveals just how fast it can be.
The Need to Re-align
‘How long will it take to fix alignment in respect of this digital initiative? Asked the leader. ‘Six hours & fifteen minutes' replied the coach. E.T.A. (Estimated Time to Alignment) is 6.15, she quipped.
It takes 15 minutes for each person to do the analytics and 6 hours to workshop the issues, explained the coach.
Clarifying the need, the leader explained: ‘As a team, we need to get aligned behind this digital initiative and fast. Because, if this initiative fails, we all fail' he added. ‘Our strategy fails too!' However, while ‘I am 100% committed, I would put the team's commitment at just 30%!' explained the leader.
With clarity around the need, let's begin the countdown to alignment:
The first 15 minutes.
Each member of the leadership team took 15 minutes online to reflect on the digital initiative, answering a series of questions ahead of the planned workshop.
The data provided a complete profile of the digital initiative. important context that emerged was the fact that members of the team had on average 7.5 other important projects running and were presently only getting to spend 11% of their time on this project.
Gathering the data ahead of the workshop is designed to save time. It is also aimed at preventing blind spots and bias (e.g., optimism bias & group think)
Let's continue the countdown to alignment, as the workshop begins.
1st hour: Situational Analysis
The workshop started with an open & honest assessment of where the initiative & team were at.
Immediately, the conversation revealed a gap between the levels of project confidence (55 to 75%) and strategic ambition of 90% plus.
The team’s data provided an insight into its health and performance, with attention turning to worrying levels of pressure and vitality, as well as to issues around the effectiveness of collaboration.
2nd hour: Key Success Factors & Risks.
The first mile of the digital initiative was rated at just 64%. There was a realization that, in the rush to get the project up and running fast, some important steps may have been skipped.
Some hidden KSFs and risks were identified as requiring attention by the team.
3rd hour: Business Fundamentals.
The digital initiative's business fundamentals were rated at 61%.
In particular, the team focused on the need for greater clarity and alignment regarding business needs, market reality & business impact.
4th hour: Vision of Project Success.
Team members shared their perspectives on success, developing a shared & compelling vision of success for the digital initiative.
With the aim of bringing project risk to life, the team also did a quick ‘project pre-mortem'.
5th hour: Ways of Working.
Ways of working on the project were rated at just 63%.
Steps were taken to clarify the right result, the right work and the right roles.
6th hour: What Happens Next?
Individual & team commitments were made, with a focus on quick wins & obstacles.
How progress would be reviewed was also agreed upon.
With the time up here is what people said at the close of the workshop:
- ‘I no longer feel like we are pulling in different directions.'
- ‘I feel re-energized, more determined and more resilient.'
- ‘We have course corrected, I feel we are back on track.
- ‘There is less ambiguity and a lot more clarity.'
The question is: Do you need to accelerate the process of alignment?
SOLUTIONS & SERVICES: Here are some of the ways that our research & insights are put to work by our clients: